Continued from Part 1
So like I said in yesterday’s post…”The Rock Farm is NOT my home.”
Nor is it a farm at all, but rather, a large piece of property that my Daddy bought when I was in High School, about 1 mile down the road from his house, accessible at the very end of a “Dead End” road.
As precious as the “homestead” is to me, and as cherished are its gently rolling hills and majestic oaks, the Rock Farm is foreign and…and… and creepy. While my Dad seems to prefer the Rock Farm to the beautiful tamed land that surrounds his house, I suppose I just never have grown attached to it.
But how could I?…
While the land I grew up on inspired daydreams and sentimentality and a deep love for the gentle side of nature, the Rock Farm still manages to feed the darker and more morbid side of my imagination. The minute my Daddy turns into the gate that leads to this wily land, I go from dreaming of autumn hayrides and writing books to vividly picturing giant black bears and mountain lions jumping out at us and bad guys making moonshine on top of the hill and…dead bodies floating in the creek. Sorry…I was born morbid and there is no cure.
The Rock Farm is wild. In my mind, it is reminiscent of Jurassic Park, with its steep hill covered in huge boulders (most likely crawling with poisonous snakes), towering skinny trees that block the horizon and almost make a sky-high roof over the acreage, pterodactyl-like birds that live in the very tippy-tops of those trees and hover above us, most likely looking for pedestrians (like me!) to swoop down and carry away, and a big river that runs right through the middle of it, probably also full of deadly snakes, surrounded by sandy inclines that look as scary as the rest of the place. And then there’s that Native American burial site on the property…
It utterly astounds me that these two patches of land sit roughly 1 mile apart, for truly, they could reside on different continents in different eras of time, one bringing to mind Beatrix Potter, the other, The Lord of the Flies.
But like I said, my Dad loves it, and has worked hard to make it an outdoorsman’s heaven on earth. There are wild hogs to hunt, and lots of deer, and ducks, and fish, all in one convenient and masculine locale.
Oh, and before I move on, there is one other detail I should mention about going on Kawasaki Mule rides with my Dad, especially to the Rock Farm; a true pioneer spirit, he gets lost in the great outdoors. And I’m not talking “lost” as in “I-don’t-know-where-I-am” but “lost” as in “I-love-it-so-much-out-here-I-think-we-should-stay-5-hours.”
After looking at my Mom with desperation (and receiving her responding smirk of amusement), I said goodbye to her and and my sweet Baby Betsie and loaded up in the Mule, Gideon wedged in between me and my Dad, Rebekah snug on my lap. Despite my misgivings, we took off down the driveway, most likely to be killed and never seen again.
But as we sailed down the remote gravel road, cool wind blowing our hair back from our faces, and then entered the gate to begin that long, steep descent into dinosaur land, I begrudgingly had to admit that the view was kind of amazing, especially from my seat safe in the mule, Rebekah’s warm (and gloriously heavy) body sinking into my lap. Hearing Gideon’s one million questions about everything we passed, I thought of city children, cooped up in apartment buildings, who would possibly go an entire lifetime without seeing a place like this, and I loosened up a bit, even as I gazed warily off into the distance looking for those bears. Gideon and Rebekah were laughing as we bumped perilously down that steep road, driving past “the scary tree” (that seriously looks like it could grace the cover of a children’s Halloween book), passing the giant hill of boulders, crossing a large pasture and slowing down, coming to a stop on the “landbridge” my Dad built up over the river.
He turned off the Mule and my heart sank even lower than it had since I found we were coming to the Rock Farm. “Why are we stopping here?” I thought to myself…
“Who’s goin’ with me to check the corn feeder?” my Dad asked, stepping out of the mule.
“Seriously?” I asked. “We’re supposed to get out?”
“You don’t have to.” Daddy answered.
“I’m wearing flip flops…” I feebly replied. “And Rebekah has on sandles.”
“Gid, you can come with me,” he said, and Gideon, after retrieving his camouflage toy rifle from the gun rack, hopped down to follow his Granddaddy. My Dad pulled a freshly harvested cob of corn from the flatbed of the Mule, and handed it to Rebekah. “This is for you.” he said, before turning to walk into the wilderness.
“Thanks!” she piped up, with a big smile on her face.
“You’re leaving us?…” I asked, misgiving continuing to enter my already fearful soul.
“You can go with us.” he reminded me.
“But…I’m wearing flip flops…and Rebekah is wearing sandles…” I repeated, eyeing the rocks and the river and the sand that lie ahead.
“We’ll just be a minute.” my Dad assured me. (Which, to an outdoorsman, loosely means 1 hour and 53 minutes).
“Okay…” I said, my voice growing smaller with each word I said. I didn’t want the pterodactyls to hear me.
Gideon pulled his gun strap over his shoulder and began trying to step across the river on the stepping stones, high weeds on either side of him. Picking up a large stick on the ground, he used it to aid him in his crossing, and I fought back the urge to ask if he needed help or even to say “Be careful!! Watch out for snakes!!” It took major self-control to keep my overprotective mouth shut.
Rebekah, watching his every move with bated breath, quietly whispered, “He is so brave.”
I knew then that what I was allowing Gideon to do was a good thing. This was boy stuff, and I needed to get used to it, regardless of the fact that the son I was sending off into the Wild still gets slathered in Johnson’s Baby Lotion after his baths.
“Gideon,” I called out, as he finished crossing the rocks, “Rebekah said that you are so brave.”
He smiled hugely, then turned and tromped off after his Granddaddy. But before he turned the curve of the river out of our sight, he looked back at us and waved, shoulders back, head held high. This was a big moment for him. “Rebekah!” he yelled. “I’ll be right back, and when I come, I’m going to give you this big stick to fight off wild hogs!”
“Okay!” she yelled back, waving, “Thank you, Bubba!!”
Turning to look at me, she said conspiratorially, “Mama, do you know what I’m going to do if a wild hog comes to get us?”
“What?” I asked.
“I’m going to throw this corn right into his mouth.” she said, holding up the yellow cob that Granddaddy had handed her before he left us on the landbridge to die.
“Then what will happen?” I asked, a smile of amusement stealing across my face.
“The wild hog will say ‘Oh thank you! That is so good!” she said, in a deep and wild-hog-inspired voice.
This made me laugh, and the two of us continued to chat, as we waited for our menfolk to return to us.
Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, my Dad pleasantly surprised me by returning straightaway, and before I knew it, we were on our way again, Rebekah holding on tightly to her corncob and to the stick her Bubba had promised her with one hand and a new treasure from Granddaddy in the other hand — 6 beautiful tiny shells that he found near the river. I loved looking down at her tightly-clenched fist, and tried to imagine what girlish and innocent thoughts were racing through her head as she held on to her treasure for dear life. I miss the simplicity of childhood sometimes.
“Well that wasn’t so bad…” I thought as we pulled back onto the path that would lead us to the gate and then back “home”…
I should have known better. Rather than driving back to the main road, my Dad made a sharp right turn and drove us into the heart of the forest, shoulder-high weeds surrounding us, grasshoppers smacking us in the face. “Let’s go look for some deer!” my Dad bellowed with a grin on his face.
I spent the next 20 minutes or so trying to understand why we were here as I held on to Rebekah for dear life lest she bounce right out of my lap, occasionally brushing spider webs out of my hair.
But it is no use to try to understand the mind of a pioneer man. Just do your best to enjoy the ride, and know that “this too shall pass”.
And it did. Never spotting a deer, we eventually mozied our way back to the home I love, unloaded from the Kawasaki Mule, loaded up into the quiet, electric (and more spacious) Mule, and picked up my Mom and Betsie for a beautiful drive through the 160 acres that sits right in my heart with my family and most cherished friends. My agitated spirit immediately calmed within me, and my gaze moved heavenward as I contemplated the beauty of creation and the grace and power of the Creator. I spent the next 30 minutes or so inwardly singing praises of gratitude for my husband and children, my parents, my homes, my family, my friends, my life, my freedom…everything, really, but the Rock Farm.
The breeze was fresh, the horizon was viewable, and guess what?…
We saw a deer.
(The Rock Farm is apparently not their home, either).